Can There Be An Amicable Solution To The “Mess” In The NPP?

By Atty Philip N. Wesseh (PNW)

For sometime now the former ruling National Patriotic Party of Liberia (NPP) , the brainchild of former President Charles Taylor, has been engulfed in leadership crisis that continues to affect the normal operations of the party. Every other time there are allegations and counter allegations with the president’s leadership headed by Cllr. T. C. Gould and another group which referred to itself as the “interim leadership” headed by Mr. Rudolph Cooper.

At one point, there was even grave allegation of assassination against some individuals in the party which led to serious public concern that prompted the intervention of the Liberia National Police which immediately deployed officers at the headquarters of the party to “protect lives and properties,” as things were said to be getting out of hands at the party’s headquarters. The police intervention came at a time of reports of thugs being at the headquarters to cause trouble.

The Cooper’s group is claiming that the leadership has reneged to hold convention, something for which they decided to hold convention for a new leadership, something they said it is overdue. But the Gould’s leadership has refuted this claim. Because of this, the Cooper’s group has set the end of this month and early august for this national convention. But the National Elections Commission (NEC) has warned against the holding of such exercise, until the leadership crisis being investigated by the Commission is amicably resolved.

It can be recalled that at some point, when the Cooper’s “interim leadership” announced that it intends to hold convention, NEC, through its Communication Director, Joel Kennedy, advised the party not to proceed with such exercise until the matter before it is finalized. Despite the warning from NEC, the Cooper’s “interim leadership” in a press release last week, announced the holding of such convention or exercise.

In that release dated July 21, 2015, the Cooper’s leadership said, “The Long delayed 6th Biennial convention of the former ruling National Patriotic Party (NPP) kicks off on Thursday, the 30th of July 2015 to August 1, 2015 at the Party’s Headquarters in Congo Town, Monrovia.

“The Sixth (6th Bennial Convention is expected to address among other issues, key constitutional Reforms and the election of National Officials of the Party.

“Delegates from across the fifteen (15) Political Sub-divisions of Liberia have already begun arriving in Monrovia for the convention.

“The convention which has been delayed for more than a year will be graced by prominent individuals, Stewarts, and Partisans of the party.

“NPP’s interim chairman, Mr. Randolph Cooper, says all is now set for the hosting of the long-delayed convention with the selection of Mr. Jenkins G.W. Wongbe as Chairman of the convention committee.

“Meanwhile, Partisan Wongbe has pledged to work hard to coordinate activities of the various committees to ensure a successful outcome of the convention.”

It was based on the receipt of this press release that this paper contacted NEC, which in response warned those planning to hold the convention to hold on to this as the investigation into the leadership crisis in the party is yet to be resolved.

I take interest in this crisis because it is a simple issue that should not have taken such a prolonged time. The basic issue is the holding of convention. The group against the present reportedly “dethroned” administration leadership or administration is only complaining about the holding of convention on groups that the present leadership time has expired and that there is a need for the holding of this convention to elect a new leadership.

Because the party has not been able to resolve this matter, NEC is now holding discussion or looking into the matter to end the crisis. The Commission, from what I gathered, NEC is expected to give its decision into the matter very soon. In view of this, it is necessary and prudent that those planning to hold such convention hold on until NEC, which has such matter into such crisis, decides the matter. This would definitely reinforce our belief in the rule of law or the due process, as anything contrary to this would be a complete disregard to our belief in the due process and rule of law.

If the “Grand Old” “True Whig Party (TWP), the country’s oldest political party, which once experienced such a situation can resole its differences and is now on course with as leadership headed by former Information Minister Reginald Goodridge, I believe that the NPP can also sail this path of discussion and negotiation. Perhaps, the NPP needs to borrow from the strategy or approach used by the “Grand Old” party to resole its leadership crisis.

I always said that given our idiosyncrasy or eccentricity, as human beings, even, from the same biological father and mother, there would always be differences, but what matters is the approach and mechanism to employ so that such differences can be resolved to a win-win-solution. It is always a give-and-take situation, where one person or group cannot be dogmatic or intransigent, thereby undermining progress in the interest of the group or organization, like the NPP.

Furthermore, in such a crisis situation, one person or group cannot get all; there must be high degree of flexibility and compromises to achieve a particular result in the interest of all. This is how it works in resolving any situation. Even in a highly difficult situation, there must be a common group to resolve the satisfaction of all involved.

As I stated based on my observation, the principal or primary issue that has caused this fraction or that has atomized the membership of this party, is the holding of convention. I do not believe that the Cllr.Gould leadership, whose tenure has reportedly expired, is against this. Perhaps, this has been delayed for some reasons. This is why a discussion on the matter is imperative to find a way out. But to continue in this matter to hold convention, when there are still some problems, is injudicious and unwise.

Sometimes what leads to unnecessary conflict in a group, organization, or among people is the approach and manner in which people express their views in pursuing their desire. This is why in communication it is said, “it is not what you say, but how you say it or the choice of words, that matters. This, I believe, has made this simple matter in the NPP to snowball into such crisis.

As I end this pierce, in whatever group, organization, like a political party we find ourselves, let us cultivate this spirit of conflict resolution for a win-win solution. Let the NPP put its art together, as the   holding of any convention would be a defiance to NEC and politically ill-advised.

Until the party and its members, whether officials or not, realize this, I Rest My Case, as I believe that there can be an amicable solution, like in the case of the TWP.